This program furthers the Department's mission by enhancing what is understood about mentoring as a prevention and intervention strategy for youth who are at high risk of involvement or involved in the juvenile justice system.
The goal of this mixed-methods study is to evaluate the effectiveness of community based cross-age mentoring to reduce negative outcomes related to violence exposure/engagement and promote positive development among African-American and Latino youth from four sites serving three low-income, high violence urban neighborhoods using youth mentors from the same high-risk environment. Cross-age peer mentoring programs have been found to overcome the problems and ineffectiveness of other types of mentoring programs and are important to further evaluate. In collaboration with four community organizations: CeaseFire, StandUp!HelpOut!, Lawndale Christian Legal Center, and Enlace, a prospective approach will be implemented to follow cross-age mentor/mentee pairs for one year of mentoring. Both quantitative and qualitative methods will be employed to analyze training effects, retention, and weekly mentoring experiences. Quantitative data will be collected pre, post and at a 12 month follow-up. They will recruit, train, supervise, and evaluate 115 mentors, with 115 mentor controls, selected and screened from local agencies and high schools located in the same high risk environments as the mentees to finish with a retained total of 200 mentors/controls. They will also recruit and evaluate 220 mentees, with 220 mentee controls, to attend weekly mentoring sessions for one year to finish with a retained total of 400 mentees/controls. Qualitative data will allow them to investigate what occurred in the mentoring that helped produce positive outcomes from cross-age mentoring relationships. Both mentors and their supervisors will be trained as community researchers. Information from this qualitative approach, such as recurring themes and potential applied recommendations, will be interpreted collaboratively with the trained community researchers to ensure validity and reliability. Moreover, school-based data will be gathered in tandem with the data collection time points for participants to address the relevant research questions. Project results and recommendations will be communicated throughout the mentoring community through publications and presentations targeted at both academic as well as applied audiences. Achievement of project goals and objectives will be documented by carrying out the outlined research procedures, publishing results in peer-reviewed journals, and sharing findings with community-based groups and administrative/policy officials through lay-friendly summary reports, presentations, and suitable technological and media venues. Finally, throughout the project there will be an emphasis on their collaborative partnerships with the four community organizations, with the objectives of promoting positive development and reducing delinquency and negative outcomes in Chicago youth.